A few weeks ago we started a series on pursuing our dreams. You can read the first installment here. We are using the phrase “ATTA GIRL”—and the letters that make it up—to give us a hand in pursuing our dreams. The first “A” stood for “Acknowledge Your Dream” and the first “T” for Talk It Over with God.”
There was a young ant who scavenged at the picnic area of the local park. One day the ant hit the jackpot. He was so excited. He’d found an entire hamburger, bun and all! He shared his enthusiasm with his fellow ants, but the older ones just scoffed at him. “How do you expect to eat that giant thing,” they asked. He thought a moment and then with a smile, he replied, “One bite at a time.”
And that’s what our second “T” is about. It stands for “Take the First Step.” Mountains are climbed by putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. What’s your first step? Break things down into bite-sized chunks.
As you pray, what one thing comes to mind that you can do this week to move your dream one step closer to reality? It might be a baby step—calling the community college for a course catalog, for instance—or maybe it’s a giant leap—like signing up for painting lessons. But we need to take the first step or we’re never going anywhere.
What opportunities can you provide your children so they can begin to pursue their dreams, no matter how wild? Say they want to live under the sea:
- A first step might be to take books out of the library about sea life or divers or underwater explorers.
- It might be renting educational DVDs that show people at work there.
- You could take them to the aquarium. Talk about what kinds of creatures live under the sea and what kind of things humans can do to be part of that world.
- Make special arrangements for them to meet an animal trainer or the shark tank diver.
- Get them started in swimming lessons.
Take that single step and see where it goes. Yes, you’ll have lots of false starts with your kids (and maybe for you!)—activities and interests that don’t go anywhere. But each one opens your child’s heart to a possibility. It also helps expose them to the not-so-glamorous parts of the dream. That’s how my visit to the tech school and all that talk of body fluids killed my nursing dream quickly.
But our children need to take the first step or they’re never going anywhere. And if you pooh-pooh their dreams now, they will eventually learn that their dreams are worthless and begin to follow only what the crowd says is valuable. Children with dreams that others take seriously will learn to stand for themselves because they don’t want to derail their dreams.
Be willing to let the dream die. Yes, you may have spent money on the tutu and tap shoes and jazz lessons, but if Suzy decides she never wants to dance again, be ready for that and give it up gracefully. There is nothing wrong with requiring your children to stick with a sport or class for a semester or season, which teaches perseverance and concern for the team, but never make a lengthy commitment for your children. Consider their ages when committing them to an ongoing activity. And once they have decided they don’t like an activity, don’t try to convince them they do or that they’re secretly having fun. Simply say, “That’s fine, but remember we are going to continue with this for another 5 weeks because we agreed to that.”
What plans can you make today to pursue your dream? Just one step. And then maybe another for next week. Write them down. Tell them to someone who will only encourage you, someone who believes in you and your dream.
If you’re really brave, post your first step in the comments section. (And tell me if you want me to check up on you!)
Come on, take that first bite. The whole hamburger awaits.